Arizona lakes and rivers are a wonderful resource. Throughout this desert state, we have water fun ideas for you. Water is a precious resource here. In the Southwest we value it greatly.
We roam our state every chance we get to live that life, ourselves! We love it!
So why not share?
Every Southwestern state has towns and cities with their own local parks. For us much of the time, they're often centered around Arizona lakes and rivers. Because we live in Arizona! So it's easiest for us to visit them.
We love going to these places, because of the scenery, the majesty, the enjoyment, the enhancement of our well-being. And because we find lots of things to do to have fun. Which have we found in Arizona? Quite a few. And where?
Two main interstates traverse the state, three others are major connectors.
Although Phoenix is a large sprawling city, suburbs provide nice local park lakes. Tucson also has great things to do locally at lakes and riversides. Flagstaff & Yuma are other larger cities. Can we find anything there?
Let's take a virtual road trip through our state (by scanning on down the page) looking for Arizona lakes and rivers. Or, if you know where you'd directly plan to go,
JUST CLICK IT BELOW:
Crossing southern Arizona on Interstate 10, here are some great Lakes in Tucson.1
Reid Park - Exit 22nd St., head East. 1-1/2 miles on left, enter at Lakeshore Dr. for parking. Straight ahead are two lakes.
Over 156 acres, with tons to do around the lakes. A playground at either end of the lake. Rose garden adjacent. Plus much more Throughout the Park.
Christopher Columbus Park - Open 6am-10:30pm. Off I-10 Exit 252 onto El Camino Del Cerro, then left onto Silverbell to entrance on left.
John F.Kennedy Park - On Ajo Way (Hwy. 86), corner of Mission Rd. Accessed via I-10 or I-19. Easiest lakeside access is from S.La Cholla Blvd., which is off Ajo. If you're just traveling through Tucson, it's the least convenient freeway traveling stop.
Sweetwater Wetlands Park5,6 - Using reclaimed water this tertiary system recycles it for wetland habitat, encouraging birdlife and more! Multiple ponds with encircling trails/paths, edged with cattails, willows & cottonwood. What a fantastic place to see wildlife. What else?
Santa Cruz River Park - The Santa Cruz river has a small part that runs, associated with the Sweetwater Wetlands. Elsewhere through Tucson it's dry, except during strong Monsoon Storm events. Then it roars down that streambed! What To Do though?
Along its banks find "The Huckelberry Loop" - what? This entire loop system is a shared pathway throughout the city. Walk it, ride bicycles, skate it, even for equestrians.
Keep these things in mind (be sure to know all the rules!):
Cañada del Oro Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park - Alongside the regularly dry Cañada del Oro River, or wash, as it's often locally termed. The Loop also runs along here. Christina's name was added to honor her life. Sadly a gun violence victim on January 8, 2011, at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' event in Tucson.
Pantano River Park - Another dry river, quickly running with monsoon storms. Also alongside the Loop, with drinking water & restroom comfort zone. A memorial park section is lined with trees with explanatory signs. Also unique here is the Children's Memorial site at Michael Perry Park. Remembrance for a 12-year old kidnapped/murdered.
A Wall has children's engravings, aiding a local nonprofit.
Desert Breeze Park - Chandler, I-10 Exit 160 to W.Chandler Blvd., left at N.Rural Rd., right on Desert Breeze Blvd to park.
Lakeside picnicking, rest rooms, playground, spray/splash pads, trails. Fun train ride is open on weekends/holidays. Don't miss the Hummingbird Habitat!
Cortez Lake Park - Where to give the kids a break on your Arizona trip? North end of Phoenix, a shady place lakeside, with a fun playground.
Kiwanis Lake Park - Tempe, I-10 Exit 155 onto W.Baseline Rd. Go East, entrance right after canal.
Dobson Ranch Park - Mesa, I-10 Exit 157 to W. Elliot Rd., over Hwy. 101, left onto Dobson Rd.
Friendship Park - Avondale, a very nice town West of Phoenix. I-10 Exit 131, North on Avondale Blvd., left on W.McDowell to park's left entrance.
Tres Rio Wetlands - A gem in the desert, aside the dry Salt River.
Recycling wastewater for rehabilitating this riparian habitat. As it was in the 1800s. This oasis attracts over 150 varieties of animals, including many birds that aficionados love locating.
Tempe Beach Park - Parking off Rio Salado Parkway. Alongside what's called Tempe Town Lake. But really it's the reconfigured Salt River, dry when nearing Phoenix.
Pumphouse County Natural Area - South of I-40, I-17 Exit 333, Mountainaire Rd., go West, immediate right onto Tovar Trail.
Kachina Wetlands Preserve - Use Pumphouse directions, but on Tovar continue uphill, to corner of Lohali Trail parking at roadside.
Rio de Flag - The one natural river in this small, but growing historic mountain city.
West Wetlands Park - Located at 282 N. 12th Avenue. Wonderfully planned for a variety of things to do. So that the entire family can have a great time there, enjoying activities. This is the complete Arizona lakes and rivers park!
The Gila River's confluence with the Colorado River is here, but we don't recommend seeking it out. The Gila is dry, roads to it so sandy you could get stuck, normally evidence of pop-up unauthorized camping, plus possible private-property.
Just not worth it! But the Colorado River is another story!
Centennial Beach - From West Wetlands Park, entrance from N. 12th Avenue, enter roundabout to W.Water St., take 1st right to parking & beach path.
Gateway Park - 1st St. & Gila. Fish the Colorado from docks.
Riverside Park - Adjacent to the Colorado. Picnicking, but no specific river amenities.
Location on the Colorado River means this small town has terrific Arizona river recreation.
LAKES: With the town's abundant riverside frontage, they didn't much bother creating lakes. In this desert, no natural lakes either. But upriver, just over 2 miles as the kayak paddles, is Davis Dam, which created Lake Mohave.
It's all about the Colorado River!
Colorado River Nature Center - This cooperative effort with Arizona Game & Fish, BLM, & Bullhead City has many options. Day usage on 500 acres.
Dean Hackett Park - Small park donated to the city by local home-owners. At 1051 Terrace Drive.
Rotary Park - 300 Acres means lots of stuff for fun. But beware of this: Non-residents, March-Oct. & Holiday weekends, pay $20 Day-Use Parking Fee here.
Bullhead Community Park - 376 acres of excellent action! Also has Parking Fee as with Rotary above.
The Navajo Nation, their people's lands (read: reservation) covers the Northeast part of Arizona, and goes into New Mexico. Anything there is overseen by Navajo laws, for instance camping, fishing/boating Licenses, etc.
Two lakes near the NM border may be of interest.
Wheatfields Lake11 - Accessed from I-40 Exit 357, North on Indian Rt. 12, at Hwy. 264 make right, at Windowrock make left, again onto Indian Rt. 12. Up the road bear right keeping on 12. It'll wind through NM for a bit while traveling North. When finally crossing into AZ, crossing Whiskey Creek (likely dry), not much farther now!
Tsaile Lake - Closer to populated area, near Diné College's main campus in Tsaile. With not so much isolation, not so pristine either.
Not the water, but the surroundings. Nearby areas have specified campgrounds, but dispersed, without many amenities.
As you can see there are so many Things To Do at Arizona's lakes and rivers. And that's not all! Because there are...
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